BJP President Rajnath Singh has reportedly told his RSS bosses that Modi will be anointed the party’s PM candidate by next week (today’s TOI). Several disturbing reports about Modi and his government (the Vanzara letter, the sting tapes, Governor’s return of the Lok Ayukta Bill) last week appear to have only egged on the party boss to hasten the announcement. I suspect Rajnath Singh thinks that the reports have been planted by Modi’s opponents, and in retort, he wants to snub them with this announcement. Well, god bless the BJP! Or rather, Ram bless the BJP!
Rajnath Singh may succeed in using the RSS to mute out Advani and Sushma Swaraj, but are these two the type who will happily take an instruction of this type? Sushma Swaraj has said that she will not be able to function as Leader of Opposition if this announcement were made. Why? Would she morally feel unable to look other MPs in their eyes for the kind of leader her party has chosen? Or is it that the announcement will publicly tell the world that her chances of becoming the PM are over? Considering her seniority, she is bound to be given a ministerial position if Modi wins…..will she be willing to take the job under Modi? I doubt it.
And then what about Shivraj Singh Chouhan, struggling (yes, especially after the Congress hinted that they might prop up Jyotiraditya Scindia as their CM candidate) to retain power in MP. As per a story in ET yesterday, “he made it clear that in Madhya Pradesh at least, the communal polarisation that accompanies Modi’s name would be detrimental to the party’s prospects”. Chouhan doesn’t want Modi’s name announced before the assembly elections. Surprising isn’t it? MP has a Muslim population of less than 5%. The Hindus in MP are solidly behind the BJP’s Hindutva rhetoric. And even in MP, Modi is a problem? Why? Or again, is it a case of the CM wanting to keep his chances of becoming PM open, especially if, as expected, the BJP falls way short of a majority on its own? Like Modi did in Gujarat, if Shivraj Singh Chouhan wins MP for the 3rd time in a row, wouldn’t he suddenly become a strong contender for the PM?
And then what’s wrong with Manohar Parrikar? This man was singing paeans of Modi just a few months back. It was in his state that Modi was anointed the campaign chief. What was his need to make the statement he made, that Godhra was a blot on Modi and he could have handled the situation better? Why is it that BJP leaders change their tune, and suddenly try to become liberal when they speak with foreign media? Are they caught in some kind of a moral trap, where they are forced to take antediluvian positions on social/religious issues inside the country, and so they try to burnish their image when they speak with outsiders? Hadn’t the BJP also told the US, back in 2008, that they actually supported the Indo-US nuclear deal (Wikileaks), when they had already decided to vote against it in Parliament? Why couldn’t they tell the US on its face that they didn’t like the deal? But such double-speak has become quite the character of the party. One thing for us locals; another for the outsider!
Of course, the RSS manages to mute all criticism of Modi. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has reportedly denied the ET report. So has Manohar Parrikar! Some internal democracy this!
In any case, the point I want to make is that Modi has been a hugely divisive leader even within the BJP. As is true of his fan base which is loyal and limited, but vocal, here too, he has a fiercely loyal but small base of leaders supporting him. They infest TV studios and create the impression that Modi is THE man. But every now and then, a Yashwant Sinha and a Shatrughan Sinha embarrassingly creep out of the woodworks. Not to talk of the scores of other party leaders who are waiting for the picture to become clearer before they announce their stands.
Modi cant unite his own party. Not surprisingly, he cannot unite his allies. Forget the JD(U). Even the Shiv Sena, one of its few staunch allies of the BJP, has supported Sushma Swaraj for PM in the past. That’s probably why Modi is trying to cozy up to the MNS. There is also fire brewing in the party’s relations with the Shiromani Akali Dal, with Modi refusing to accommodate Sikhs migrants in Kutch. What is worse is that Sikhs in the UK have appealed that the UK should not allow Modi into their country (http://tinyurl.com/n8859fk). Looks like the “anti-minority” tag that sticks irremovably to Modi has now been extended to Sikhs as well. Forget the minorities, even those strongly opposed to the Congress, be it the SP and BSP in UP, the TMC or Left in WB, Jagan or TRS in AP or JD(U) or RJD in Bihar, don’t want anything to do with Modi. Some PM candidate he will make!
Modi may divide his own party, and his allies. But the one segment that he dominates is the journalists’ lobby. Everyone from Ashok Malik to Madhu Kishwar to Swapan Dasgupta to Minhaz Merchant to many other gods of journalism is a vocal supporter of Modi, willing even to ignore the most serious of accusations levied against him by Vanzara. They are his/his party’s real advocates in media. When they appear on TV, one knows the position they will take even before the anchor announces the topic of discussion! They will criticize the Congress when the going is bad (rupee etc) and also when things improve (praising Raghuram Rajan and hinting that a good man in the government would have cured India’s economic woes). Such is the quality of our seniormost journalists! Unabashedly biased. And what is worse, they don’t even declare their political leanings beforehand. They prefer to be called “senior journalist”. These so called journalists should switch careers and become mere bloggers!
The real truth is that Modi’s announcement as PM candidate next week will be the last in a series of good news that the Congress has received in the last two weeks. The Congress knows that this move will shift the whole electoral dialogue away from corruption and policy paralysis to Godhra and Ayodhya. The party must be keeping its fingers crossed!